Archaic or obsolete vocabulary and grammar.

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Why does legal English continue to remain archaic?

Perhaps this is a question for Law.SE if one exists, but I am asking here as there are other nice questions on English history. There is some historical development account presented in Wikipedia, ...
35
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7answers
5k views

Why use “of” in the phrase “delivered of a baby”?

With all the "Royal baby" craze comes something that really confuses me. All the news media used pretty much the same sentence to make the announcement: The Duchess of Cambridge has been ...
23
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7answers
2k views

Does “gay” still include the meaning “merry”?

Dictionary.com lists eight meanings of gay, with “merry, lively” as the first entry. Microsoft banned an Xbox user for listing Fort Gay (a real place) as his hometown: Xbox Live considered the ...
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5answers
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King James Bible archaic style

I am currently reading the King James Version of the Bible and I have noticed some features that I would like to know more about. Almost every verse of the First Book of Moses starts with “and”. ...
17
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2answers
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Was the “Ye Olde Shoppe” ever used or is it just an ancient-looking construct of modern times?

Surely, if I were the owner of a shop selling archery goods and wanted to portray my shop as some kind of old-fashioned, high-quality traditional outlet, I might be tempted to call it “Ye Olde Archery ...
17
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6answers
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When should I use archaic and obsolete words?

I'm learning the English language, and while reading Merriam-Webster I often see common words with additional "obsolete" and "archaic" descriptions added to their definitions. When should I use ...
14
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2answers
304 views

Did people ever use the word “cock” as a euphemism for “God”?

English has a lot of surprises. When I was checking the etymology of "cocksure", I found this entry in Oxford Dictionaries: 1 British A male bird, especially of a domestic fowl. Below is ...
14
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6answers
993 views

What is the name for the grammatical device of putting “not” after a verb to negate it?

Here's a passage (more or less taken randomly) from the American Standard Version of the Bible from 1901: 1 Peter 3:14 (ASV) 14 But even if ye should suffer for righteousness' sake, blessed are ...
13
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5answers
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Is “from whence” correct? Or should it be “whence”?

I just saw a parody on the Lord of the Rings, where one of the characters says: it must be cast back in the fire from whence it came! This struck me as odd, since I expected them to say "whence ...
12
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4answers
849 views

What is the origin of the word “conk”?

Is it obsolete to use this word? Where does it come from? I couldn't find the origin of this term. Can I use the phrase "The machine conked out" or should I replace conked out with something else?
11
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4answers
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What happened to the “‑est” and “‑eth” verb suffixes in English?

What happened to them, and how were they once used? Straining my mind to sound archaic, I came up with the following: Dost thou thinkest thou can escape thy sins? and Bringeth me mine armor ...
10
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3answers
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Is the proper spelling “judgment” or “judgement”?

I always thought the proper spelling was  judgment, but I see  judgement all the time, even in articles, news, etc. Merriam-Webster lists  judgement as a variant spelling for judgment. But is the ...
10
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2answers
500 views

“Thought is a thread, and the raconteur is a spinner of yarns"

“Thought is a thread, and the raconteur is a spinner of yarns" What does this metaphor mean and what is the origin? I know it is an ancient one, but couldn't find anything else! Is it obsolete ...
10
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4answers
454 views

What exactly is “noonday night”?

In answering the question Is there a term for “midnight” that is like “noon”, I came across the phrase noonday night listed as a synonym for midnight in my copy of Roget's International ...
8
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3answers
912 views

Meaning of “Where will wants not, a way opens”

I have been reading "The Lord of the Rings" and came across this phrase in the "The Return of the King". “Where will wants not, a way opens, so we say,” he whispered. “and so I have found myself.” ...
8
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6answers
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Is there a similar word to 'twain' but meaning 'three' instead of 'two'?

I would like to split something into three parts, is there a phrase I can use with similar overtones to "cleave in twain"?
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6answers
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What was “well met!” supposed to mean?

I know it was a sort of archaic greeting, but I don't know how to interpret the actual words. I had a foggy idea that it meant "It is good that we met here and now", but even then, "well met" is not ...
7
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4answers
4k views

What does “pray” mean in phrases like “pray proceed”?

Is this an archaic form of "please proceed"? I have never heard in in speech but sometimes it appears in novels. My version of "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" is full of it, apparently in place of ...
7
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2answers
340 views

Help me parse this sentence so I can understand what joke my ancestors played on the King

I'm reading an old history book about my ancestors entitled "Rulewater And Its People: An Account Of The Valley Of The Rule And Its Inhabitants" published in 1907 by George Tancred. In it, I'm having ...
7
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4answers
989 views

What did they call illegitimate children in Old English days?

I know that the word bastard in this sense appeard only in 13th century. So what was the normal term before that?
7
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3answers
768 views

Why “answer me” but not “answer me the question”?

Why are "answer me" and "answer the question" acceptable but not "answer me the question"? Is it similar to "explain me (something)"?
7
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3answers
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Why is the term “touched” no longer commonly used?

I’ve heard the term touched used to refer to someone who is “not quite right”. I’m curious as to where this term came from, what it really means, and why it doesn’t tend to be used often anymore. Is ...
7
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1answer
421 views

Why has “sware” become “swore”, “bare” “bore”, etc?

As far as I know, there are four verbs (swear, bear, tear, and wear) whose simple past forms used to be (archaically) sware, bare, tare, and ware; but are now exclusively swore, bore, tore, and wore. ...
6
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2answers
160 views

What does “might” exactly mean in the following excerpt?

This is a excerpt from Le Morte d'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory, and I want to know the exact meaning of might regarding the context. Some say by might we mean: being allowed to and some say it ...
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4answers
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How can I say “girl” in archaic English?

I'm looking for an archaic replacement for the word girl ?
5
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7answers
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Are older senses of “anent” still alive in any dialect?

The obscure preposition anent has a long history, going back as far as Beowulf: him on efn ligeð ealdorgewinna [line 2903] ("beside him lies his great enemy") It has carried many meanings, ...
5
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1answer
236 views

Could “old fashioned” mean “angry” or “disconsolate” in early 19th Century England?

Patrick O'Brian wrote the Aubrey/Maturin seafaring novels during the late 20th Century, but the novels read as if they were written during the early 1800s (at least as far as I can tell, which isn't ...
5
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2answers
223 views

What is the meaning of “If the way Thou choosest, Lead to pain and loss”?

What is the meaning of "If the way Thou choosest, Lead to pain and loss"? How would you put it in modern English? It is a verse from Margaret E. Barber's song "The Path I Travel." The whole context ...
5
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6answers
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Words for different types of leatherworking

I'm looking for as many words (and corresponding definitions) as I can find for different specific types of leatherworking. Archaic words are fine, even preferred. Of particular interest is a single ...
5
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2answers
895 views

Did Victorians say “We are quit”?

Is “We are quit” (meaning “We’re even, no more mutual obligations”) a usage from the 18–19th centuries? Or are the examples of this on Google hits just people making it up (possibly a bad cognate ...
5
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2answers
353 views

Is using the word “singular” to describe someone or something unique an outdated adjective?

Is using the word "singular" to describe someone or something unique an outdated adjective? E.g. By a singular piece of good fortune, Mr. Athelney Jones, the well-known member of the detective ...
4
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6answers
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What does it mean to “beat one's breast”?

I'm reading The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and was wondering what was meant by the action of beating one's breast. eg. The Wedding-Guest here beat his breast, For he heard the loud ...
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4answers
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“Would” with a present meaning—is this correct?

A great example I can think of: "Please, leave! I would be alone!" With would meaning something like, "I want to be alone." Is this correct, or not? EDIT: To further clarify, I am not aiming ...
4
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3answers
344 views

Has the use of these prepositions evolved?

I have been working with an extract from an 1861 newspaper (in Queensland, now part of Australia) concerning an act of mass insubordination by seamen. The text reads The whole of the men, I am ...
4
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3answers
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Exsanguination or Desanguination?

My wife was working on her lines for a play (Dracula) set in the early 1900s and one line caught my eye. It referred to the desanguination of the vampire’s victims. I’d always heard the term as ...
4
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1answer
252 views

Outmoded word for “next Tuesday”

I am writing an email and wanted to refer to this coming Tuesday. The phrase "Tuesday est" popped into my mind (something Miss Marple might have said) but when I googled it I could find no reference. ...
4
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4answers
498 views

“Who him?” as a stand-in for “Who is he?”

I'm curious: is this valid under some rule of grammar I don't know? Was it ever valid, or was it slang or a personal idiosyncrasy? Or (I shudder to think) was it invented by later authors, as a ...
3
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2answers
7k views

What does the term 'divers places' mean?

In the King James Bible, Matthew 24:7 states: For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers ...
3
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5answers
482 views

Archaic text suggestions

I'm interested in learning Archaic English. As a starting point, I guess simple texts that are easy to comprehend would be a good choice. I would appreciate any suggestions.
3
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3answers
510 views

“Much obliged” — old-fashioned? Polite? Pedantic?

I've heard someone say "Much obliged!" a couple of times, instead of the usual "Thank you!". A common phrase in Spanish, Portuguese or Italian, but certainly unusual in English. My question is: is it ...
3
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4answers
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What is the origin and use of “remember me to her/him”?

Is anybody familiar with the use of remember as in remember me to her/him? I think I've see it in 19th century literature. Most likely it's archaic. I believe the speaker is commanding someone to ...
3
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2answers
95 views

Is there a specific name for the activity of blowing the bellows?

In a few European languages, there are words derived from latin calcare - literally to tread, in these words it means to blow bellows, for example in church organs; in Polish it's kalikować - a ...
3
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2answers
783 views

Meaning of “I would there were…”?

What is the meaning of "I would there were", as in this quote from Shakespeare's "A Winter's Tale"? I would there were no age between sixteen and three-and-twenty, or that youth would sleep out ...
3
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1answer
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What is a “hens party” and where is this phrase commonly used?

Where does the term come from, where in the world is the term used? I came across the usage in this article, with this paragraph as quoted: Keara O'Neil was on a shopping trip to find bridesmaid ...
3
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2answers
2k views

Usage of “despair” in the phrase “being despaired of”

I am reading a 1892 novel, in which I see the sentence: For months my life was despaired of, and when at last I came to myself.... Is this an old use of the word "despair"? If the word "of" is ...
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4answers
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How can I speak as though I were from the Victorian era?

I think that it would be really cool to be able to speak as though I was from the Victorian era. How can I learn to do this?
3
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3answers
101 views

Why is this a hyperbaton?

According to Wikipedia, this is a hyperbaton: "Whom god wishes to destroy, he first makes mad" — Euripides Is that right, and if so, why? My native language is Swedish, but I speak English ...
3
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1answer
79 views

Is afeast or possibly affeast, afeest etc. a word?

My English (vai Liverpool)-Canadian mother used this word to mean 'disgusted by' or 'repulsed by.' Example: "he is afeast of mixed foods." meaning you think mixed foods are disgusting or inedible. I ...
3
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1answer
239 views

Name, Conditions, and Pluralization of “Conscience' sake”

In some versions of the Bible, 1 Cor. 10:25 contains the phrase conscience' sake with no s following the possessive apostrophe of conscience, which does not end with s, as in: New American ...
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2answers
293 views

Why is the Elizabethan English incorrect in this quote?

I saw a Geico commerial with Elizabethan verb forms that bothered me because they were being misused: Trick Number 1. Lookest over there! Servant looks Haha! Madest thou look! So endest the ...